By Andy Staples
October 20, 2009
NCAA Football Power Rankings
21 Michigan Wolverines
Last Week: --
Penn State's trip to Ann Arbor marks the Wolverines' final chance to prove they belong in the Top 25 and not lumped in with the large group of improving-but-not-quite-there-yet teams. But what a win it would be. Michigan would pull the upset, and a year after 3-9, the Wolverines would be bowl-eligible before Halloween.
Last game: Beat Delaware State, 63-6
Next game: Saturday vs. Penn State
22 Wisconsin Badgers
Last Week: 24
I realize I bumped up the Badgers after a second consecutive loss, but Iowa is very good, and, as I said, everything gets a little sloppy after No. 19. Hopefully, Wisconsin won't make a fool of me and lose to Purdue on Halloween. If it does, I'll feel pretty bad about squeezing South Carolina, another impressive Week 7 loser, out of the rankings.
Last game: Lost to Iowa, 20-10
Next game: Oct. 31 vs. Purdue
23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Last Week: 25
The Fighting Irish also ascend after a loss. I've personally witnessed both of Notre Dame's defeats this season, and I can't help but think these guys actually are pretty good. They seem to play up or down to the level of their competition, but the Irish are better than the remaining teams on their schedule. That doesn't mean they'll win every game, though.
Last game: Lost to USC, 34-27
Next game: Saturday vs. Boston College
24 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Last Week: 15
Yes, the Cornhuskers laid a big, fat egg against Texas Tech and may need to switch quarterbacks, but the Ndamukong Suh-for-Heisman campaign is gaining momentum. Against an offensive system that should nullify a dominant defensive tackle -- wide line splits, quick throws -- Suh had two tackles for loss and four quarterback hurries.
Last game: Lost to Texas Tech, 31-10
Next game: Saturday vs. Iowa State
25 Idaho Vandals
Last Week: --
If third-year coach Robb Akey keeps his Vandals winning, I might stop complaining so much about Boise State's weak schedule. This week, Idaho must find a way to make Nevada's Pistol formation misfire.
Last game: Beat Hawaii, 35-23
Next game: Saturday at Nevada

Next five: South Carolina, Utah, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas

Andy Staples' Power Rankings also serve as his ballot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

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